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Allens, Clayton Utz, act on desalination project

Allens, Clayton Utz, act on desalination project

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Allens and Clayton Utz have advised on the $3.5 billion desalination project public private partnership.

CLAYTON Utz and Allens Arthur Robinson have secured roles on Australia's largest and strategically significant infrastructure project.

The news follows the Victorian government's awarding the AquaSquare consortium a contract to build Australia's largest plant at Wonthaggi in Victoria.

The AquaSure consortium will finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the multibillion dollar desalination plant via a Public Private Partnership with the Victorian Government, including an 84-kilometre transfer pipeline to connect to Melbourne’s existing network and undertaking various related renewable energy projects in order to fully offset the electricity used by the project. The project is the largest PPP being undertaken globally since the global financial crisis began.

In a multi-disciplinary and cross-office effort, Melbourne projects partners Dan Fitts, Marcus Davenport and Naomi Kelly led the Clayton Utz team that advised the AquaSure consortium on the necessary project documentation, including the finalising and signing of the Project Deed in late July as part of the bid process.

Meanwhile debt finance partner Simon Irvine and corporate partner Brendan Groves advised on the complex debt funding and equity arrangements for the project, which involved consideration and documentation of innovative structures to secure finance for the project in a challenging market.  

The project contract is expected to reach financial close on or before 4 September this year, with the AquaSure consortium to begin construction of the plant and associated infrastructure soon after. Work has already commenced on the project.

Allens Arthur Robinson has acted for Thiess, one of Australia’s largest construction and services companies, and Degrémont, an expert in desalination technology, for their role in the winning consortium's bid for the Victorian Desalination Project.

The Victorian Desalination Project is valued at A$3.5 billion and will be delivered as one of the largest public private partnerships in the world. It will be Australia’s biggest desalination plant.

Consortium AquaSure – comprising of Thiess, Degrémont, Suez Environnement and Macquarie Capital Group – will finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the reverse-osmosis desalination plant, and its associated transfer pipeline.

Allens brought together a team from Sydney and Brisbane – who operated out of Melbourne – to work with the Thiess-Degrémont joint venture.

Victorian premier John Brumby said the plant would be operational from the end of 2011, and said it was critical to securing water supplies for Melbourne, Geelong and towns in Western Port and South Gippsland.

"Our government is committed to Victoria's desalination project because we must deliver a solution that is not rainfall dependent in an era of climate change," Brumby said.

Allens partner Leighton O'Brien led the Allens team on the deal, which included partners Ren Niemann, Malcolm Stephens, John Greig and senior associate Christopher Larcos.

According to O'Brien: "It was great to be able to work with Thiess and Degrémont – and the wider consortium team – on such an important project for Victoria."

The Thiess-Degrémont joint venture will design and construct the project. The Victorian Desalination Project will be Australia's largest desalination plant and will be capable of providing around a third of Melbourne’s annual water supply.

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